Friends toasting with red Spanish wine

Why you need to buy Spanish wine online

Toast with red Spanish wine glasses

WHY YOUR CELLAR NEEDS SOME SPANISH WINE

Did you know Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world, only after Italy and France? Yet Spain hasn’t done a great job marketing their wines, and as a result many think Spanish wine is just about Rioja reds… Such a pity!

Rack of ancient dusted Spanish wine bottles

Certainly, during Franco's dictatorship the emphasis was in cheap table wine. But the comeback of democracy inspired the new generations of wine makers to go for unique wines. So Spanish cellars have been rivalling international ones in the top wine world lists for a while already.

What makes Spanish wine a great buy

1

History - Not just a fad

Wine has been part of the Spanish culture for millenia now. The Phoenicians were the first to introduce the vine plant 3000 years ago. And by the Roman times Spanish wine was already being exported all over Europe (you can actually visit the ruins of a wine cellar in the Museum of History of Barcelona!).

When in the 1800’s the phylloxera bug destroyed the vineyards beyond the Pyrenees, the Spanish wine makers were able to find a solution to stop it by engrafting American feets to local varieties. And that allowed them to dominate the European market until the other countries recovered!

2

Grape varieties

Let me surprise you: Did you know in Spain there's 209 varieties of grapes apt for wine making? From them 111 are local varieties recognized by some DO (Origin Denomination label). 19 are foreign varieties accepted in some DOs. 74 varieties are minorities or endangered species. 

And 5 more don’t belong to any specific DO. Or did you think everything was Tempranillo? Wrong! It is indeed the most farmed red grape in Spain. But it’s not even the MOST farmed. The white grape Airen is the most farmed in the entire country. But it’s mostly use das a work-horse in blends. And the Madrid and La Mancha DOs use it for young wines.

3

Wine Regions

A good wine speaks about the land where it was produced. And with 17 regions (officially called "Autonomous Communities"), each with its own personality and landscape, it'd be naif to think all Spanish wine is Rioja. On the contrary: there's 138 official DOs in Spain!

Getting to know all of them might sound too ambitious for the amateur, but you can start sorting them out by climate. The green rainy valleys of the Northwest give zesty whites. The Duero and Ebro valleys are known for their aged Rioja reds, but are also the perfect setting for unique terroir wines.

Catalonia is the cradle of cava, the Spanish sparkling. Far from being cheap champagnes, you’ll even find impressive aged ones. And together with cava come lovely whites. And for reds, the mineral Priorat and Montsant DOs grown in slate mountains.

The rest of the Mediterranean coast gives lovely fruity wines. And then there’s the South, Andalusia, with its culture of Sherry.

4

Price - When more expensive doesn't mean better

Let me share a personal observation as a food and wine tour guide. My guests are always pleasantly surprised to see how affordable Spanish wines are considering their quality. Often less than half what they'd expect to pay. Let me explain briefly why that hapens.

First of all, we can’t forget that Spain has the largest amount of vineyard lands in Europe. The production is massive and the competition is tight. And that keeps prices low.

Another reason can be that Spain comes from a recent story of cheap table wine, and locals aren’t prepared to pay exorbitant prices for a bottle. Specially considering that the Spanish income is lower than that of France, for instance. 

Another explanation is that France has created a halo of glamour around their products. French fashion, French wines and champagnes… And showing off is important for a certain part of the market that has a lot of money to spend extravagantly. You know what I mean.

So French wines make you pay for that glamour you are looking for. And to a certain level, that applies to Italian wines too. After all, Italian gastronomy is idealized all over the world. And that confers their wines an additional touch of prestige.

Instead, Spain has yet to make the spotlight. Its wines already have – through multiple awards only known by connoisseurs. But its “mass” popularity still doesn’t allow it for rising the average prices so much. And that… is good for us, wine lovers!

5

Regulations and controls

Europe is all about regulating. There's laws, and there's tests, and there's controls. But at the end of the day, each country decides how much of that applies to wine making and, each DO can add its own conditions to be recognized, as well.

And did you know that Spain is by far much more meticulous than France or Italy (already quite restrictive) when it comes to passing controls? The number of tests a Spanish wine needs to pass at different stages of its production and aging before it’s accepted for sale is superior than French and Italian wines. 

And since one single failure could mean having to discard the entire production of that particular wine… Drinking a Spanish wine sounds like an extra safe experience!

So where can you buy Spanish wine?

Ideally, you’d be visiting your favorite cellar and buying your Spanish wine directly from them. But that’s something you can only dream of doing in your next vacation, but not on a daily basis.

You can of course head to your local wine store and see what they have. But their selection of Spanish wines will likely be quite limited. And here is when online wine stores come to the rescue.

6

Why to buy Spanish wine online

Amazon is not going to be your friend here: I've checked and they only carry a few (suspicious?) brands. Not what I as a local would buy. If you are decided to buy your wine online you'll need to find an online wine store that specializes in Spanish wines

Generic wine stores based in your country probably won’t have a selection that is broad, satisfying and enticing. So you better find one that is based in Spain, even if the shipping costs are a bit higher.

And before you buy Spanish wine online, you’ll need to make sure you live somewhere where local laws will allow you to import it. That’s particularly true for the USA, where some states do not allow wine shipments… But often a good and professional online wine store will be aware of the legal requirements and know how to sort everyting out.

Cheers!

Marta

Author Marta Laurent Veciana

AUTHOR BIO

Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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